Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Adventures in Pure Health Element #2 Sunshine

Woof, woof, it's your resident Earth Doggy Miyuki here, back after a long hiatus. I've been spending less time in front of the computer, and more time outside in the fresh air and SUNSHINE! I feel so much better when I am outside in nature on a sunshiney day. A walk at sunrise and sunset is essential for doggy health and happiness. We are crepuscular creatures, which means we are naturally most active at dawn and dusk.

Most of you wouldn't know that I used to share my home turf with a sunshine afficionado. Chevi the Princess Pittie LOVED the sun. She could lie out on our back deck in the hot sun for hours, soaking up its rays.

We all know that sunshine is essential for life. But what is it about the sun that makes us so happy? Chevi was always at her most calm, relaxed and happy when she had had a good run chasing rabbits in our local sand dunes, then cooled off in some fresh pure ocean water, before lazing about in the sunshine for hours afterward.

The sun has been given a bad rap over the last few decades with all the skin cancer press. Certainly many pets do suffer with skin cancers, with animals that sunbake for hours, or animals with pale skin and fur, being higher risk. My coat is nice and thick so my skin is well-protected, and I moderate my sun exposure naturally very well as I get too hot if I lie about in it for long.

But I have noticed many benefits from the sun that are essential for pure health:
1. Sunshine makes us more playful
I always feel up for a romp on a sunny day, and less inclined to go outside when the weather is gloomy and grey. Even though I don't need to worry about packing a raincoat or umbrella like you humans do, it's still easier to be active when the sun is shining! Having said that, a dance in the rain is always good fun too!

2. Sunshine makes for more restful sleep
Time spent in the sunshine promotes a natural circadian rhythmn and increases melatonin levels, promoting deep, restful sleep.

3. Sunshine makes us happy
Sunshine boosts endorphins and serotonin levels, which are mood-altering hormones that help make us happy and improve our sense of well-being.

4. Sunshine actually helps prevent many cancers!
Sunshine promotes Vitamin D production in the body, which is necessary for bone health, immune system function, and has protective functions in the body. Nasty cancers like bowel cancer are less likely when sunshine exposure is adequate.

5. Sunshine makes it easier to go camping!
My family loves to go camping, but hates packing up camp in the rain, so a sunny weather forecast means we can go off on an adventure. We are discovering more campgrounds that are dog-friendly. We recently stayed at Scotts Head Caravan Park, which borders on a beautiful beach that is also dog-friendly from the last entrance point north.

If your human family want to learn more about travelling with dogs in tow, the 'Travel Dogs Australia' blog has lots of helpful info.

And don't forget to pack some nice eco-friendly toys to play with, like an Orbee Ball (one of our guest blogger Jet's favourite toys) or Zoom Flyer, available from Roar Kingdom.

So get out there and enjoy the sunshine before winter is upon us!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Adventures in Pure Health Element #4 - Vigorous Activity

Sunshiney greetings to all, Jet here - Miyuki's favourite playmate.

Miyuki has asked me to write a guest post about the health benefits of Vigorous Activity.  It's one of the Essential Elements of Health according to Dr Renee, and Miyuki thought I would be an expert on the topic, given my breeding - I am a Kelpie Crossbreed, and anyone who knows Kelpies knows that we LOVE our EXERCISE!

In fact it is absolutely essential to wellbeing for all us doggies, and for you humans too.  Exercise gets those feel-good endorphins pumping, making me oh so happy.  My tail wags all day long after a good run on the beach or ball retrieval session, and I feel less of a need to chew stuff, which makes my people smile too.

So given my qualifications, I got the job of trying out a doggy bicycle leash.  There are a couple of different types available - I was trying the Walky Dog, there is also one called a Springer, both are available in Australia, and both work in a similar way apparently.  They are a fixed leash that attaches to a bike beneath the bicycle seat, with a flexible mechanism that absorbs tugs and movement, meaning the adventure is comfortable and safe for both dog and bike rider.  Much safer than having a human hanging on to a leash while trying to ride a bike, or not having a leash on at all.

The bike attachments are best used for medium or large dogs, and you need to put your dog in a harness rather than a collar for their comfort and safety.  Dr Renee also suggests buying some comfy dog boots for your furry friend's paws, especially if riding off-road trails.  I was running on a bike path and tarmac and managed to cut my paw pad so I think boots are definitely a good idea.  Ruff Wear make great boots I am told.

It doesn't take much training to work out how to use these.  As long as your human can ride a bike pretty well, and you like to run, you're set!  I was a little nervous of the bike at first, but once I worked out that I wasn't going to get caught up in the wheel (the attachment keeps you fixed at a safe distance to the wheel), I got more confident.  We went pretty slowly because it was my first foray into bike riding, and Dr Renee didn't want to scare me.  She started out by walking the bike for a little while to get me used to the feeling of being attached to it, then got on and rode short distances nice and slow, talking to me the whole time to give me lots of encouragement, and she got off a few times to give me lots of pats and cuddles and happy words to make me feel good about how I was doing.  By the end of the ride I was trotting along beside the bike like I'd done it all my life!

I highly recommend one of these to any doggy people who have an active dog breed as their companion.  Many dog breeds who are relegated to suburban environments these days were actually bred for important jobs like herding cattle or sheep, or retrieving game, pulling sleds, or even hunting lions (I think that sounds pretty scary don't you?!), and need lots of exercise to stay happy, healthy and out of mischief.

Dr Renee says that most doggy 'behaviour problems' are actually just lack of exercise and/or training problems, and she thinks these bike attachment thingees are just fabulous for packing really effective, efficient exercise into the day - for doggies and their humans!  She said that if you need any other ideas for creative ways to exercise your canine pals (and felines, apparently cats need exercise too?!), to visit the Roar Kingdom website as she has a pet exercise and play fact sheet that details all the exciting ways to exercise and play with your pet.

Now get outside and ride a bike!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Adventures in Pure Health

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions, but I found New Year's Day this year a little challenging.  My brother died suddenly at the age of 40 in a car accident 18 months, ago, and so New Year's Day this year for me marked another year without my brother, another year where I would be getting older, and hopefully wiser, but my brother, who was part of my whole life, remains frozen in time, space, and memories.

So this year I decided to set my resolve for the rest of my life, knowing that life may cease to exist when you least expect it to.

My resolution?  Pure Health through a Life of Adventure.

Healthy living doesn't have to be boring, or a chore, or time-consuming, or difficult.  It should be simple, exciting, inspiring, in fact our natural state of being.

Having said that, pure health seems to be a difficult target for many to achieve.  And it is often close to impossible for many pets, who lack sovereignty over most decisions affecting their life.

So our focus for this year's blogs is going to be 12 essential elements of health, indispensible facets of healthy living that affect us as much as they do our furry friends.  Pure health is not achievable if you focus only on one aspect. There are many elements of health, all of which must be in balance. 

So what are the most essential Elements of Health?  Here is our list, inspired by Dr Douglas Graham of raw vegan 80/10/10 fame:

Clean Fresh Air & Pure Water
Natural Diet
Vigorous Activity
Sufficient Sleep & Rest
Meditation & Cogitation
Companionship, Love & Appreciation
Play, Recreation, Amusement & Entertainment
Pleasant Environment
Emotional Stability
Security & Sovereignty
Creative, Useful Work

This list is by no means exhaustive, however these are all aspects of health that I consider to be indispensible. Our pets are experts at all of these things when given the chance.

Stay tuned through the year to learn how each of these elements affects our pets, how to improve each facet of health for your pet (and in turn for yourself), and discover your own Adventure in Pure Health!

Monique & Miyuki looking forward to our Adventures!